Robert Sterling Arnold
Robert Sterling Arnold (1905 – 2003)
Inducted in 2005
Born January 26, 1905 in Coleman, TX, Robert S. Arnold spent his entire life promoting the expansion of Southern Gospel Music.
At the age of 16, he attended music normals sponsored by the Central Music Company of Little Rock AR, and studied under legendary figures like JH Carr, Will M Ramsey, and John A McClung. He also studied with William W Combs, the noted music instructor for both the Vaughan Music Company and the Stamps-Baxter Music Company. At the age of 18, Robert began singing tenor in various quartets. Among his singing jobs in the late 1920s and early 1930s were stints with the Carr Quartet, the Central Quartet and the JC Penny-sponsored Overall Quartet, a group that sported overalls, complete with white shirt and black bow tie, in each of their concerts.
Robert Arnold’s major contribution to gospel music was in perpetuating shape-note singing schools and publishing annual convention books. He helped found the National Music Company of Coleman, TX in 1937 and continued until his death. During the 1940s and 1950s, he managed and sang as a member of the National Quartet. All the while, he continued to teach local singing schools as well. Robert S. Arnold taught at least one singing school in each year since 1924 at the age of 19 until his death at the age of 98.
He is also a noted songwriter of more than 400 songs, including the well-known song, “No Tears in Heaven.”
Anna Gordon Davis
Anna Gordon Davis (1917 – 2004)
Inducted in 2005
Anna was an original member of the legendary Chuck Wagon Gang. Born Effie Carter on February 15, 1917, in Noel, MO, she learned to sing as a child from the example of her parents, David and Carrie Carter.
In 1935, she contracted pneumonia and it was this situation and the need for medicine that prompted her father to take his oldest son Ernest and his oldest daughter Lola to audition for a spot on Lubbock, TX, KFYO. After recovering, Effie also joined the group and, as the Carter Quartet, they sang at the station daily for the next year. In 1936, the four Carters auditioned and received a spot of Ft Worth’s powerful WBAP radio and, for the next 15 years, sang on a daily program sponsored by Bewley Flour Mills under the name the Chuck Wagon Gang.
The names of the individual group members also changed and Effie became known as Anna. As a member of the Chuck Wagon Gang, Anna’s smooth alto voice characterized one of the best-known groups in Southern Gospel Music history.
In 1936, the group began recording for Columbia Records and, for the next four decades, became one of the company’s best-selling artists. In the early 1950s, the Chuck Wagon Gang began appearing in concerts on Wally Fowler’s all-night sings.
Anna continued to sing with the group through the 1960s even after the death of her first husband who was the group’s guitarist, Howard Gordon. In 1969, she married former Louisiana Governor Jimmie Davis and soon curtailed her activities with the Chuck Wagon Gang in order to sing as part of the Jimmie Davis Trio. Together, the Davises became true ambassadors for Southern Gospel Music, singing in concerts and always supporting and promoting the good news of Jesus Christ in song.
Elmo Fagg (1919 – 1981)
Inducted in 2005
Born in Alcoa, TN, on June 28, 1919, Elmo fell in love with Southern Gospel at an early age.
Elmo served in the Army Air Force during WWII. After his discharge in the fall of 1945, he took a job with the Lone Star Quartet in Raleigh, NC, singing on WPTF-AM radio. The following year, he and Jack Taylor left the quartet to join the Stamps Quartet owned, Blue Ridge Quartet. Elmo became the group’s manager as well as its lead singer – positions he would hold for the next three decades.
The Blue Ridge became an independent quartet in 1948 and moved to Spartanburg, SC singing on WSPA-AM radio. In 1951, WSPA added television to the area and the Blue Ridge Quartet became one of the first groups to appear regularly over the new medium. Because of the television exposure and Elmo’s leadership, the Blue Ridge Quartet name spread far and wide. The Blue Ridge also became part owners of the Gospel Singing Caravan which was one of the pioneering Southern Gospel syndicated television programs of the 1960s. Elmo was particularly known for directing the choir numbers on the Caravan. In 1965, the group formed its own television program, Music for All America, appearing regularly on 30-40 stations.
Not a flashy performer, Elmo Fagg is remembered as “a pure, simple, right-on-pitch lead singer.” His tireless promotions and leadership kept the Blue Ridge Quartet at the top of the Southern Gospel industry.